The Icelandic sheep is descended from the Northern European short tail breeds and was brought to Iceland by the Vikings in the middle ages. The vigor, hardiness and variety of uses for these sheep made them a cornerstone of the Viking settlement and later development of Icelandic culture. The first importation into Canada occurred in 1985. Genetically the Icelandic sheep is the same today as it was 1100 years ago. It is possibly the oldest and purest domesticated breed of sheep in the world today.
The Icelandic is a medium sized, low set stocky sheep. They produce a thick light fleece in a variety of colors. Although they are generally a horned breed, there are a number of naturally polled individuals. The ewes are quite seasonal and generally breed from October – May. Traditionally they are grass fed and the lambs grow to 36-41 kg in 4-5 months and produce a good, lean carcass.
Canada maintains the registry for all the Icelandic sheep in Canada and the US. Numbers reflected here are for Canadian registrations only. (Courtesy CSBA)